FAQs for Applicants
Do I have to leave my current school ?
Yes. In the first model of The Difference, we will ask all participants who are successfully matched to an AP school to leave their schools to take up a full-time role in their placement AP school. However, we are exploring how this programme will allow Difference Leaders to stay in touch with their former mainstream school, or another mainstream school, during the course of the programme. We are asking our pioneer cohort of schools and teachers to help us develop this element of the programme.
Are there specific eligibility criteria to be a Difference Leader?
Yes. All applicants will be required to complete a registration form to determine their eligibility for the programme. All applicants will need to confirm that they:
have the right to work in the UK for the duration of the programme
have a valid QTS
have a minimum of 3 years’ teaching experience in a mainstream school
are not currently working in an AP school or PRU
Will I be placed in a Special Measures AP school?
No. 82% of PRUs and AP academies nationally are Good or Outstanding. Yet Ofsted reports show a school improvement pattern in the need to raise expectations in teaching and learning, and to improve assessment for learning, data monitoring and assessment. The Difference only places in Good or Outstanding provisions, where it knows its Difference Leaders will be able to work within a strong team to contribute to school improvement and improved pupil outcomes.
Will I have to move house?
No. Once we have our pool of successful applicants, we seek to match them with AP schools within a commutable distance. If a geographical match is not possible, some successful applicants may want to be offered the option to defer their place. Although we hope to expand the reach of The Difference in future years, our first cohort will be placed only in schools in Greater London. We are accepting applications from teachers who want to move to London.
How is AP different from mainstream?
AP schools (PRUs, AP Free Schools and AP Academies) typically serve 50-100 pupils on site. Sometimes there are multiple sites within one ‘school’, serving different cohorts (e.g. pupils with medical needs; pupils who have been permanently excluded at Key Stage 4; pupils who are on a short-term placement in Key Stage 2). AP schools have higher teacher-to-pupil ratios, with an average class size of about 5-10. Working with vulnerable pupils often means more opportunity to work closely with practitioners in social work, child and adolescent mental health services and youth offending teams.
What will my role be?
In our pioneer cohort, we will be matching Difference Leaders who are successful in our selection process with the right role for them in an AP school. Some of our AP partner schools need Associate SLT, others need Assistant Headteachers and others, Deputy Headteachers. We will match placements to leaders, taking into account Difference Leaders’ experience. However, in all placements there is an opportunity to lead a teaching and learning school improvement project in Year 1; and a wellbeing and safeguarding school improvement project in Year 2.
What will my pay progression be?
The Difference pledges to match your current salary, up to L14. After the two-year programme, The Difference will work to broker onwards career progression. The mainstream schools we are working with currently offer a range of posts, including leading inclusion across multiple school sites as part of SLT, Deputy Headship in mainstream and becoming Head Designate at a new AP Free School linked to a mainstream multi-academy trust.
Has the curriculum been tested before?
Yes and no. This is an innovative programme, and it will be co-created with our pioneer cohort. However, it is being built on existing best practice and delivered in partnership with some of the best practitioners in the country. We draw on the practice of schools achieving brilliant outcomes with pupils, such as The Family School, whose intensive family coaching alongside trauma-aware teaching allows 100% of pupils to be reintegrated back into mainstream or referred to the right special school. The accreditation of National Professional Qualification will be delivered in collaboration with our partners at Teach First, and by our own expert curriculum team, who have a strong track record of school leadership, teacher development and specialist training leading to reduced school exclusion.